For a very long time now people have used some form of headcollar to lead animals of all shapes and sizes. Often these animals, from horses to cattle, were stronger and larger than those leading them and the headcollars gave people a greater degree of control. Today there is a number of headcollars designed especially for dogs and although the design may vary the principles are generally the same.

How it works
Most owners use a headcollar to stop pulling or boisterous behaviour during walks. It works by allowing the owner to control the dog by guiding the head rather than putting pressure on his airway. Pressure is applied on the back and sides of the neck and around the dog’s nose when tension is applied. This means that if an owner stops walking, the headcollar will turn the dog’s head back round towards them and prevent the dog from pulling.

Headcollars have proved to be a useful tool for training for many years, although it is vital that owners introduce and use them correctly. They are great as long as people use them properly. The owners should not be using one permanently; the whole point of using them is to stop your dog from pulling while he is on the lead and encourage him to walk properly beside you. Many dogs are still using a headcollar for about three or four years after its first introduction when the reality is that they should be able to walk their dogs in an ordinary collar after that length of time.

As well as making it easier for people to walk dogs on the lead, head collars are also used to calm boisterous dogs and encourage better social skills. If the dog has a problem and it lunges at other dogs or people, then a headcollar will give the owner more control. It can be used for very bouncy and hyperactive dogs because it has a calming effect. It gives them something else to think about rather than concentrating on the other animals or people around them. If a dog is starting to pull and you are unable to go to training classes, or want to train the dog yourself, it is a good idea to get a headcollar before he gets into the habit of pulling. Some people are unable to take their dog for a walk because of injuries to their shoulders or back that has been caused by the dog pulling.

It is vital that when buying a headcollar you make sure that not only is it suitable for your dog, but that it fits correctly. Just because one type of headcollar works well on one dog, doesn’t mean it will be as effective on another and vice versa. Owners should do their homework beforehand. Speak to your trainer or other owners to find out about their experiences, and make sure when you eventually purchase your chosen headcollar, that you read, and fully understand, the instructions before putting it on your dog.

A well-designed headcollar will be the best aid in controlling and training of dogs providing a form of ‘power steering’ and effective, but kind control.

Headcollar points to remember:

  • If possible have your dog’s headcollar fitted by a professional (pet shop assistant should not be the first choice). The headcollar should be introduced to the dog over a period of time so he will associate it with good things. Also, a headcollar fitted incorrectly will not work properly.
  • A headcollar should be used as training and/or calming aid and not as a permanent solution.
  • Headcollar should not be left on a dog unsupervised, nor off lead.
  • It is good to use a double-ended lead with a headcollar, one end attached to the headcollar and the other to the dog’s normal collar.
  • Never yank on the lead when your dog is wearing a headcollar. Hold the lead across your body and let the headcollar do the work.
  • Never use an extending lead with a head collar.